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Fixed Blade Broadheads vs. Mechanical Broadheads: Which Do I Choose?

Whether you’re an experienced archery hunter or just getting into the sport, we all find ourselves wondering what type of hunting tip we should use from time to time. I typically reconsider which head to use every few years because I like to switch things up here and there.

This year, I’ve decided to try a fixed blade broadhead—the Slick Trick ViperTrick to be exact. Normally, I use my mechanical set up, a Nap Spitfire. Don’t get me wrong. I really like the spitfires. They fly well and do terminal damage to the game I pursue.

Yet, I like to see what other tips will do and how they perform. I guess you could say I like putting things to the test.

So, what makes one broadhead better than another? The answer is, “It depends.” Every hunting situation is different, and each state or region has different laws around archery hunting. For example, Idaho doesn’t allow the use of mechanical broadheads. In this case, this legal restriction means fixed blade broadheads are the only option you have when hunting in that state.

What are some reasons to choose mechanical broadheads?

When it’s legal to do so, people opt for mechanical broadheads due to a variety of factors.

1. Mechanical broadheads require no extra tuning of the bow. They shoot the same as field points in most cases. This trait is possible since their heads have a small surface area thanks to the retracting and folding of the blades. On the other hand, some fixed broadheads require extra tuning so that they fly straight. They also are more apt to make noise while passing through the air since their blades are exposed.

2. Mechanical broadheads have a larger cutting diameter. Since the blades are retracted, you can put bigger blades on the mechanical heads without sacrificing accuracy. Some heads even go up to a 2 3/8-inch cutting diameter, a substantial size. Conversely, fixed blade heads need to have a smaller cutting diameter to fly straight, especially at the high speeds made possible by today’s bows.

3. Mechanical broadheads are safer when packed. Again, since the blades are retracted, the sharp end is not exposed while in the quiver or storage.

4. Most mechanicals (not counting the Walmart specials) fly exceptionally well. They are very accurate at longer ranges. Again, no extra bow tuning is required. While some fixed blades fly well at long ranges, you’re less likely to get this performance without a little tuning.

What are some reasons to choose fixed blade broadheads?

Fixed blade broadheads have been around for what seems like forever. Their design has improved year after year and continues to effectively kill game. You could say that fixed blades are the “godfather” of arrow tips.

1. Fixed blade broadheads usually have thicker blades. These blades are stronger and less prone to breaking off in the animal. This design also provides better protection against cuts when you’re field dressing the game. It’s not fun slicing your finger on a blade while gutting your animal.

2. Fixed blade broadheads offer better penetration, even at lower poundage. This advantage is especially true for larger animals such as elk and moose. Fixed blades are beasts when it comes to penetration. For smaller animals such as deer and antelope, both fixed and mechanical styles work just fine.

3. Fixed blade broadheads continue to cut for longer. This point has been explained well by Carson Koury of Final Draw. If the fixed blade broadhead gets lodged into the shoulder of a deer as the deer runs, the blades will continue to cut and cause damage to the animal. Mechanicals, on the other hand, fold up and cease cutting if the arrow doesn’t fully pass through.

4. Fixed blade broadheads rarely fail. The only time fixed blades will not kill an animal is if the shooter makes a bad shot. Mechanicals are more prone to failure since they’re designed with several moving parts. For instance, I’ve had mechanical blades fail to open. Additionally, fixed blades will not deflect on angles shots, something mechanicals have been known to do.

A Few Broadheads to Consider

I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite broadheads. You may want to give some of them a try this year.

Mechanical

1.Grim Reaper Whitetail Special: These are my favorite mechanicals, hands down. They fly straight, even over 80-yard distances. They have a large, 2-inch cutting diameter, and they don’t deflect on angle shots.

2. Nap Spitfire Maxx Trophy Tip: My choice for second runner up. These are great heads, and I’ve used them for the last few years. In my experience, they fly well out to 50 yards and are likely to go even beyond that distance. Their cutting diameter is 1 3/4 inches, and they’re rock solid.

Fixed 

1. Slick Trick ViperTrick: This style is my favorite fixed blade so far. They’re extremely sharp, have thick blades, and fly true without much tuning. They also come four to a pack, which is a great bonus.

2. G5 Stricker: This is a nice head as well, and I have no complaints with it. The blades are sharp (though not as thick as the Slick Trick’s) but they’re still adequate, flying straight with minimal tuning.

3. G5 Montec: I’ve listed these ones only because they fly so well. These blades fly better than any fixed blade I’ve ever shot. They require zero tuning, just like the mechanicals I’ve used. However, I haven’t continued to use the G5 Montec style because they just don’t seem to be sharp enough. I want extremely sharp heads so that I’m sure the game I shoot dies quickly. I wouldn’t consider using the G5 Montec myself anymore because they just don’t seem ethical to me.

Which type of broadhead will you shoot?

As I’ve noted above, both mechanical and fixed blades are great choices for hunters. Keep in mind there are many decent styles of both mechanical and fixed blade broadheads out there, but there are also some bad ones, too. Which one you choose boils down to personal preference and the areas where you hunt.

Best of luck this year, and happy hunting!

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